An exchange sacrifice in chess refers to sacrificing the Rook for a minor piece. You give up your Rook for either a Bishop or a Knight. Since the Rook is theoretically worth 5 pawns, whereas a Knight or Bishop is about 3 pawns, an exchange sacrifice is therefore a sacrifice of about 2 pawns.
The swap of a Rook for minor piece is called “the exchange” in chess terminology. You might say that you have “lost the exchange” or have “won the exchange” depending on who gave up the Rook. An exchange sacrifice is an intentional loss of the exchange.
An exchange sacrifice can be used in both attack and defence. It is more common in attacks. Using a Rook to take a Knight or Bishop that is defending an enemy King is a very common exchange sacrifice.
A defensive exchange sacrifice is less common. Sometimes it is worth it to give up a Rook to take away an attacking Knight or Bishop. The defender then may either seek to draw via a fortress or blockade of the position, or may launch a counter-attack on the other side of the board, if they have stymied their opponent’s attack with their defensive exchange sacrifice.
Related Chess Tactics
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